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An Intern's Story: Finding the "IT" Factor
Each June, NASA's Langley Research Center welcomes hundreds of student interns. This summer, about 300 students from all over the U.S. who are studying majors that lend support to NASA's mission, will spend the next 10 weeks working at the center. For the fourth year, the Researcher News is presenting a few of their stories.
By: Terrell Darden, Harrisburg University of Science & Technology

My job as an IT (Information Technology) infrastructure specialist has made NASA's Langley Research Center feel like home. And there really is no place like home.

Growing up in Newport News, Va., was a great thing, because it taught me to educate others as well as myself.

Despite the constant violence in my community, I always hoped to be a living example of what should happen to people who aspire, have goals and have the passion to succeed. I felt it was important to not only be ambitious, but to also bring success back to a community in need.

Terrell Darden.

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Terrell Darden is a summer intern at NASA Langley who is working in in the Office of the Chief Information Officer Directorate (OCIO) as an IT (Information Technology) infrastructure specialist. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

My passion for engineering started when I was trying to restructure my family computer and ended up breaking it. I noticed that there were opportunities that could grow from my failure.

I would later go on to do just that, leaving Newport News to relocate to Charlotte, N.C., where I studied at Johnson C. Smith University. My area of study was Systems Engineering.

I was fortunate to receive a total of ten scholarships from various corporations and organizations across America. This decreased the amount of my student loan debt, which is becoming an everyday problem for people who go to college.

Due to both networking and hard work, I have had numerous internship opportunities during my undergraduate tenure. I have been able to work for businesses like JP Morgan Chase Co., the Army Research Laboratory, University of California Center for Embedded Networking (at UCLA), the United States Navy, and many small businesses under the Integrated Technology Transfer Network Program (ITTN) in San Bernardino, CA.

Currently, I work in the Office of the Chief Information Officer Directorate (OCIO) here at NASA Langley, and love it.

My job in the IT Infrastructure Branch consists of collecting requirements, as well as high-level documentation for the OCIO (Office of Chief Information Officer) Data Center Consolidation Project. I also install rack-blanking panels in the Mission Data Center in order to improve airflow management and lower overall utility costs.

Outside of work, people often approach me and ask, 'Hey Terrell, what are you currently doing?' I'm proud to be able to say that I'm completing an internship for NASA's Langley Research Center.

I had always dreamed that I would, one day, work for NASA. However, I would have never imagined accomplishing this dream so early in my life.

My job takes me all over the center, and I have taken on many roles. I am part of the Pathways Agency Cross-Connection, an organization that unites young professionals in the aeronautics and space industry to inspire future exploration. I am the current technical advisor, in which I contribute my advice to the organization core functions and technical aspirations.

Moreover, I also am a participant of the Fractional Research Initiative for Exceptional Students (FRIES) Program. FRIES offers students a chance to go above and beyond their initial work assignments in order to complete additional projects.

Under the FRIES Program, I assist with analyzing business transitions, and provide accurate and updated content to the Aeronautical Science Directorate’s business analysis department.

My involvement in different programs has allowed me to gain more work experience. The brilliant minds I have encountered here at NASA have helped me find a more vivid and clear path to what I aspire to be, and I feel that I am surrounded with success here at Langley.

Currently, I am enrolled in the Harrisburg University of Science & Technology, and I have neared the completion of my Masters of Science degree in Information Systems & Engineering Management. I look forward to taking my talents and skills to the industry level.

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman